Grease may be the word, but the music ain’t working for me

For all of my love of things you can find only at restaurants and not at my house — such as things that drip with grease (mmm), things that have the word “double” or “triple” in them and things cooked in gobs of perfectly natural ingredients like salt, lard or salty lard — I actually don’t find my way to restaurants very often.

That may surprise you because I like to fuss about restaurant experiences and because despite all my eating at home and going to the gym, my body looks less like Conan the Barbarian and more like Grimace, the purple blob from McDonald’s.

Still, I get to eat out on rare occasions. This usually happens when I’m on the road, a meeting gets canceled or I’m at least 73 percent certain my wife won’t find out. Even if she doesn’t find out, somewhere a cardiologist stops what he’s doing, stares off into space when I place my order and says, in a British accent, “I sense a disturbance in the force. And it smells like double cheeseburgers.”

“The dark side, doctor?”

“Indeed, it’s Darth Fat Boy.”

Actually, my wife allowed me to go to a restaurant recently because of the only reason that counts — because she wanted to go. She explained that it was a little eatery like a 1950s-style soda fountain shop with burgers, shakes, a jukebox and such.

“Where are you going?!” she yelled as I began running.

“It’s 11:50 a.m.! Let’s get there before the noon people come and we can’t get a seat!”

(As anyone who’s ever worked with me can attest, I always try to avoid “the lunch crowd” — the folks who aren’t the least bit hungry at 11:57 a.m. but are starving to death at 11:59 a.m. and overcrowd every restaurant at noon. My newsroom colleagues in Columbus often heard me say, “I’m going now so I can avoid the humans.” Not that I have anything against humans, of course — some of my best friends are humans.)

The old-timey joint turned out to be decent, except for one thing — the music on the jukebox. The decor was classic from the walls to bar stools. I expected the music coming from the jukebox to be Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and maybe some really modern group like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Nope, it was horrible modern pop music. And not just pop music but kiddie pop music that you might hear on Disney Radio. So, all of you folks who call me “boomer” because I loathe modern country and modern hip-hop, you’re not alone. I hate other new music, too.

Clearly, my wife took note of this. I’ve channeled my inner Alex Jones to foment a fellow fat-boy conspiracy theory that she is contacting restaurants across the state — especially the greasiest ones — to blast music I don’t want to hear.

First, someone canceled our lunch meeting, so I decided to drop by an old favorite, Waffle House. I did this a lot when I was a sportswriter and getting off work at 1 a.m. It was always good, and I always regretted it. All kinds of modern hip-hop blasted from the jukebox. The closest thing to a classic was “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa, which was at least from my high school days. But whatever happened to those Waffle House jukebox classics like “Special Lady at the Waffle House” and “Last Night I Saw Elvis at the Waffle House?” And, yes, those are real Waffle House jukebox songs. (See video below)

(By the way, you know how Waffle House servers often call you “honey” and “sweetie” and such. Play some of those songs about 27 times at 2 o’clock in the morning and see what they call you then. Trust me on that one.)

The kicker, though, was when I had lunch at good ol’ McDonald’s. I was scraping dehydrated onions off my no-onions-please double cheeseburger when I heard: And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time; The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life.

The sound system was playing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Heck, I didn’t know it was Christmas! I’m sure the folks in Africa don’t know. Kinda made me feel guilty as they all kept singing, “Feed the woooorld” while I was dipping my salty fried potato heart attack sticks in ketchup. Must’ve been a blip, I figured. Then came the next song:

Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing, ring-ting tingle-ing, too …

You win, dear. We’ll have dinner at the house. But I’m picking the music. And it ain’t gonna be nothing that ring-ting-tingles. Maybe “Grease.” After all, it is the word. And it’s got groove, it’s got meaning. And it’s about the only grease you’ll find at our house.

In case you were wondering ...

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